Nenad Vucinic's Tall Blacks ran smack-bang into a Brazilian reality check today as they hit the final stages of preaprations for next weekend's Olympic qualifying tournament in Caracas.
The New Zealand men's team were thrashed 73-49 by hosts Brazil on the opening day of a four-team event in Sao Carlos - their final hitout ahead of the Games qualifier.
Without perennial leading scorers Kirk Penney and Thomas Abercrombie, the Tall Blacks predictably struggled for offence against the London-bound Brazilians and were held to single-figures in the first two quarters as they trailed 33-16 at the major break.
The New Zealanders doubled their points total in the third quarter, but could still make no impression on the hosts who included NBA stars Nene and Anderson Varejao in a polished lineup.
Rookie 17-year-old Tai Webster had a promising outing for the Tall Blacks, notching a team-high eight points (4/6 FG) in just 12 minutes.
Naturalised American Casey Frank added seven points (3/8 FG) and three boards, while big man Alex Pledger led the rebound count with seven but was kept to just six points on two-of-10 shooting.
The New Zealanders will meet Greece tomorrow and then Nigeria on Friday to conclude the event. They will then head to Venezuela for next week's tournament that will see 12 teams shooting for the final three spots in London.
Brazil 73 (Marquinhos 14, Marcelo Machado 10), New Zealand 49 (Tai Webster 8, Casey Frank 7, Alex Pledger 6, Leon Henry 6, Everard Bartlett 6). 1Q: 19-9; HT: 33-16; 54-32.
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